Tag Archives: soup

Day 6

Day 6 already!

The recent January heatwave passed, and we had ice to scrape before we could use the car – not quite the first of winter, but the first seriously frosted up car. So far we have had a remarkably mild winter. That said, it’s still a bit chilly in the house, particularly with my self-imposed ban on putting on the dining room fire while I’m on the computer.

I don’t like nuclear power with its associated risks, but I think I might prefer it to being at the mercy of other countries for our gas supplies. Until a few years ago I didn’t realise how dependent we are on fuel imports. First thing to do is to cut down on population, something we can start on by burning the u8nemployed top produce warmth for the rest of us.

I suppose I ought to point out that’s a joke, before I get into trouble, but I’m not so sure whether I am joking.

Cannibalism is another possibility but that will probably come anyway. In nature, if you crowd animals they start to behave badly and I can’t see humans being much better. Governments always drag their feet and in a couple of hundred years, as we sit on our steadily decreasing island with erosion, global warming, rising sea levels and most of our farm land under either concrete or solar panels, I can see bad times ahead. Even chickens, the stupidest and least impressive of warriors (hence the name “chicken”) turn into blood-soaked killing machines when the natural balance is disturbed.

Perhaps this would make a good plot for a dystopian novel. Then again, bearing in mind the number of people keeping chickens in their gardens, perhaps not . . .

Anyway, I’ll leave it there. On a more cheerful note, we only have six parcels to wrap today and we had vegetable stew and dumplings for tea. Spiced Sweet Potato soup for lunch tomorrow and hopefully more parcels to pack. It was going to be celery soup, but we have too many sweet potatoes so some of them had to go.

That’s all for now. See you tomorrow for a lighter look at the future of the human race.

 

Planning

I’ve just been reading LA in Waking up on the Wrong Side of 50. She is very organised and has all sorts of plans in prospect for next year. This is in contrast to me – I’m vaguely aiming for 100 submissions next year, reading 50 books and that’s it. The planning centres of my brain are not very developed. She has blogging subjects planned until April. I am, as you may have noticed, writing a blog post, but I’m not sure what I’m going to write about once I finish this paragraph.

End of paragraph. Pause. I could write about procrastination, or the amount of staring blankly that I end up doing when I’m supposed to be “writing”. I just drifted off to leave some feedback on eBay and look someone up on the internet. I’m like a small downy feather floating on the breeze – never quite settling.

We are steadily moving through the backlog of food I over-ordered fro Christmas, a situation not helped by  me ordering more for New Year. We have carved all the meat off the turkey crown and frozen it. Tomorrow we will be having turkey and bacon pie and apart from a couple of lots of sandwiches, that is the turkey done.

The planned Celery and Stilton soup[ has become Cauliflower and Stilton Soup as the cauli looked like it needed using, while the celery is still crisp.

Next, I will catalogue a few medallions for an article I’m planning and then will trawl my mind for five haiku I need for a deadline (tomorrow). It’s hard going at the moment, but I will get through. Then it’s just the quality that poses a problem.

I have shelved another submission I was planning for tomorrow and then start work on two submissions for 15th January. A target of 100 isn’t going to hit itself.

Souper Sunday

Today, we had mushroom soup. It is only the second time I have made mushroom soup, and it is the first time it has actually tasted of mushrooms. The previous attempt tasted like I imagine musty Victorian wallpaper paste would taste. It does take a lot of mushrooms, but the Christmas ordering frenzy is upon me, and we did have a lot of mushrooms. My version uses onions, garlic, a stock cube, mushrooms, fresh thyme, water and vegetable oil. The version on the internet used cream and butter too, and didn’t have thyme in it.. Internet soup recipes often use cream and butter, but I decided that we could do without it, and I seem to have been right. My view is that soup is supposed to be frugal and healthy and filling it with dairy products is not the way to go.

I’m not sure if I will try it again. I like mushroom soup but carrots are a lot cheaper and don’t shrink so alarmingly when you cook them. We ended up with two large bowls of soup. If I’d filled the pan with that amount of root veg it would have made six or eight bowls.

In the evening we had spicy lentil burgers which we found in the back of the freezer. They had been lying there, undisturbed, since the first lockdown. We moved things round to fit a turkey crown in, and found several packets that we had forgotten. I always say that we should get more organised in the freezer, but I never do anything about it. That sounds like a New Year Resolution just waiting to be made. And the good thing about it is that I will be able to make it next year too, because it never gets done.

To go with the burgers I cubed a lot of root veg (carrots, swede and parsnip) and added sweet potato before boiling until softened. They went into a wok with onions, leeks and sliced greens to become a vegetable hash. I used the water from the boiling in another pan of veg, which became vegetable soup. I’m pinning my hopes on soup as a way of getting through Christmas without significant weight gain.

I couldn’t find my soup pictures so I used a waterlily.

A Review of My Targets and Another Pan of Soup

My first job of the day was to take nourishment in the form of two slices of toast (brown seeded bread) with chunky cut marmalade. I know how to live.

I then reported for a blood test and, duly punctured, picked up a prescription from the pharmacy, had a cup of tea with friends (whilst delivering Christmas cards) and returned home for a light lunch made up of leftovers. Tea was home made soup (broccoli and cauliflower, including stalks and leaves) with a sandwich and I am now hungry as I sut and write this.

It is the price I must pay for my health. In the last three weeks I have not gained any weight, but I have not lost any either, and I need to get back into good habits. Lunch tomorrow will be more of the broccoli and cauliflower soup. Fortunately it is quite tasty, though Julia describes it, unattractively, as beige. It isn’t it’s a delicate green shade which, in certain lights, looks a little beige. But it’s definitely pale green. I would call it Eau de Nil, but I’m not sure that I want to associate my soup with the water of the River Nile.

A lot of my afternoon was spent in reviewing how my writing plans went over the last year. The plan took a bit of a knock due to me being ill and missing the best part of three months as I slowly recovered. I had  a target of 63 submissions, and managed 49. Not great, but not too bad.

Of those, I had 13 Haibun and one Tanka Prose (which I’m going to count as the same thing for the sake of these figures) accepted, which is 14 against a target of 18.

Haiku target was 12, and I have had 12 acceptances (a total of 15 poems) so that is OK.

I’m also writing Tanka, which I hadn’t planned for and have had four accepted.

One thing went badly – I had planned on doing three articles but after the first one turned into a bit of a disaster (originally accepted with edits, then turned down when the editor changed his mind< I didn’t pursue that. However, it will still be in the plan for next year.

I have also submitted ordinary poetry five times during the year and had three lots accepted.

I had been feeling a little deflated about my writing, and the way the year ended, but I’m actually quite pleased by the way it’s gone when I review the figures.

However, talking of figures, I’ve just been reading a website where a poet talks of their work. They have been writing poetry for 15 months and has had over 300 published. I really need to up my game. Or I could just stop reading author websites.

Starts with Soup and ends with Poetry

I’m writing this in the last hour of 1st December, and will post it minutes after midnight to make sure i get something written for what is currently “tomorrow”.

Soup first. I was wrong about the quantity. We had it for lunch then used the remains in the vegetable stew and dumplings we had for tea. I had mine with lashings of brown sauce, so it wasn’t as healthy as it could have been.

The green soup turned out brown, which turned to an off-putting greenish khaki once I applied the blender. I’m not sure which I prefer. It has a distinct salty taste, turning to broccoli. I’m not sure why as I only used one stock cube and no other seasoning. Apart from that, it’s OK. The colour, I think, can be traced back to me softening the onions until they turned brown – heat too high and concentration not switched on. It should be good for three days, and it might take me two of those days to work up the enthusiasm to eat it. I have seen that6 colour before and it is not usually associated with pleasant things.

Writing next. I had two poems accepted by Obsessed with Pipework. It’s a mixed blessing. I’m glad to have the poems accepted but it means that I now have nothing out with editors. This is a situation I feel I should remedy but it’s also a weight off my shoulders.

Marmalade Hoverfly

Marmalade Hoverfly

Over the last couple of years I have allowed my writing to reflect the editors I send it to, rather than what I want to write. That’s a good thing to do if you want to make a living as a freelance writer but I’ve left it a bit late for that and I really write for pleasure and relaxation.  I have proved to myself that I can write to an acceptable standard and I have proved that I can bounce back from rejection.

If I now change down a gear, it’s because I want to, not because I’m making excuses. Yes, at the back of my mind I do have an ambition to see my name on the spine of a poetry collection (or maybe more than one) but that is not as important as the pleasure I get from writing.

It’s an ego thing. Is my poetry really that good that it justifies cutting down a tree? Probably not. (I added the “probably” to give me an escape route if I ever succumb and do publish one). I don’t, to be honest, work hard enough to be able to produce a book and admire people who do.

This is very much in the area of “Writer Biographies” and blogs. A lot of them list the author’s educational achievements from forty years ago, their glittering careers and a long list of publications. It’s very dull and it isn’t really a picture of who they are (unless they really are  a pompous dullard).  I, as you know, am not overly burdened by education, achievement or success so  I couldn’t compete with them if I wanted to, but I promise you that if I could compete with them, I wouldn’t. What I have been gives some insight into what I am today, but what I am really concerned with is what I will be tomorrow. Same with my writing. Everything I have published is faulty and my ambition is to publish something tomorrow that is less faulty.

Lake District – a better photographer would have noted which bit . . .

The photos are a pork pie, a hoverfly on a poppy and a load of hills next to a lake. That’s just to remind myself that lots of things are (a) more important than poetry and (b) will still be around long after I have gone.

Soup

I made more soup this week, using a 1kg pack of frozen casserole mix from TESCO. It comes ready chopped and by the time it has been left to thaw in the fridge for 2 days all the veg is nice and soft and doesn’t take as lot of cooking. It cost £1, which is probably expensive compared to buying the veg separately, but cheap when you consider the time it saved me chopping and cleaning up.

Recipe: Boil the bag of veg with stock and seasonings, liquidise, dilute, eat. Or drink. We had a discussion at work about that – do you eat soup or drink it? My view is that you eat it if you use a spoon, but drink it if you sup it directly out of a receptacle. Anyone have any other views on what is a long-running topic in the shop? (We tend to avoid politics and religion in favour of coin design, soup consumption and the various roadworks in the city).

It came out a little bit beige, due, I think, to the presence of potato and swede and the low quantity of carrot. Apart from that, the basic soup turned out well. The seasoning left a little to be desired as I used garlic, ginger, lime juice and too much chilli. I must buy lemons, as the lime isn’t quite right. I must also restrain my tendency to add a bit more chilli. It never looks to be enough. However, a little goes a long way and soup is supposed to be nutritious rather than a test of fortitude.

Quantity? Well, I had a soup flask of it for lunch yesterday (a bowl and a half or thereabouts) and we had two bowls of it last night for tea. We will be having it for lunch today and for lunch tomorrow (I’m trying to cut more bread out). After that I think we should be about finished, though lunch on Friday is a possibility.

Tips for next time – only use half the bag, add a carrot and use less chilli. Possibly add turmeric, which is always good to bring the colour up.

Making soup always reminds me of the soup sessions we used to do on the farm. I used to do one with schools making vegetable soup from a supermarket bag. Out of a dozen kids it was rare that you could get more than one or two to taste the soup.  They claimed to eat soup at home, but didn’t trust anything that had been made in front of them from vegetables, stock cubes and water. They preferred “proper soup” from a can or sachet.

Ups and Downs

I’ve had two acceptances in the last few days, which has put me in a good mood. I’m now balanced on 50%, having had five out of my last ten submissions accepted. Last week it seemed like everything was sinking fast, with a small run of rejections but after a couple of acceptances it all looks a lot better. Such is the fragility of the writer’s ego.

Last week I was on the way out, and the frail bubble of my success was about to burst. Now I’m full of it, and full strength smugness is once again looming on the horizon.

At least I have ASDA to bring me back to earth. This week’s deliveries featured a number of items that I thought I had deleted from the order, and as a result I now have enough high fibre cereal to last until the New Year and enough ingredients to make ratatouille for a rugby team, though I’m not sure if rugby teams eat ratatouille.

Before you suggest it, the freezer is full, and has been crammed with all the extra bread that arrived.

It won’t pay off for them in the end, because I will cancel next week’s order and will do a small shop in person to buy the things we need, as we eat the last bits of this week’s order. Apart from ratatouille, my future is likely to feature quite a lot of vegetable soup.

We even got celeriac this week, after five unsuccessful attempts, which means I now have two, as I bought one on Tuesday.

One of my memories of 2020 is going to be the ups and downs of internet grocery shopping, mainly the downs, as it rarely fails to disappoint in some way. However, it does mean we don’t need to shop in a room full of coughing geriatrics and snotty kids, so it’s generally a good thing.

Study Number 1 - The Idiot

Soup and Quizzes

We had the standard soup using the bag of ready chopped veg and followed it up with a ham sandwich made using rye and sprouted grains. It was healthy and filling, though I will be adding a few stewed apples later just to top up.

I’m now blogging and watching Mastermind. I’m a bit slow tonight. I’ve often thought of applying for a TV quiz but never get round to it. This is partly because I’m lazy, but mainly because I doubt that my armchair brilliance would be repeated once I got to the studio.

It has now changed to Only Connect, as I am doing all sorts of things, apart from writing (in case you were thinking I was being slow. I’m not a great fan of the show as I don’t generally do well. However, it’s good mental exercise.

And even as I write that it ends and University Challenge starts. It’s a real quizzing fest tonight and I’m only getting away with it because Julia is distracted. Normally she puts her foot down and won’t let me watch three quizzes in a row. It’s a good night if I answer more than two or three questions. I’ve already answered three out of four, which is one more than the students. Could be a good night – sometimes I can watch a whole episode without even understanding a question. I’m now on six from eight. Things are looking up…

They are on chemistry questions now. I don’t even know what they are talking about.

Anyway, you don’t want a running commentary on me watching TV.

I just answered a chemistry question and am now doing badly at poetry. Just goes to show you never can tell.

I’m not honestly sure I have much to add. I went into two supermarkets today as I needed some specific things before we go into lockdown.  In TESCO there were three staff without masks and the spotty teenager working as a greeter kept pulling down his mask to talk to people. At Sainsbury’s the greeter didn’t even have a mask. Two staff on the tills had no mask, a manager was working with her mask pulled down under her chin and the four teenagers at the Argos counter were clustered together chatting with no masks.

No wonder we are having trouble.

Soup!

I have 28 minutes to post, and am going to give it my best shot. Please excuse the haste and the worse than normal editing.

Today’s main event, apart from a hospital phone call (which was a duplicate of the one I got yesterday) was the soup. We had half a dozen manky carrots, a medium sized parsnip and a swede (rutabaga) which was beginning to look a bit grey round the cut end. My solution – root veg soup.

This is a lockdown recipe, because with only shopping every week or ten days I’m not quite getting the supplies right and we needed to get through a few more roots.

I also had the green end of a leek, so I softened that and roasted the roots whilst cooking the tea last night. I then boiled it with stock and spices (2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, half a tsp of lazy chilli from a jar) and left it covered overnight. No need for a fridge, we are having a cold spell here at the moment. We always do once we start putting plants outside.

Today I added some lazy garlic from a jar, a touch more chilli and reduced it to a smooth consistency with a stick blender. I tried to leave  afew flecks of red, but they didn’t stand uput in the finished soup. Sometimes I use finely chopped red chillis – they stand out better.

The result was a nice beige soup with an interesting flavour and a touch of mild heat. I’m not sure that it needed the ground coriander, as I can never really taste it when I use stronger tasting spices.

Finally I added a spoonful of turmeric to brighten it up a bit. I’m not sure if the photos show it, but you get a slightly brighter orange/yellow soup when you do that.

Things I didn’t add – mushrooms and kale (despite kale being virtually compulsory in recipes these days. I thought mushrooms would be confusing, though they do need using soon, and I couldn’t be bothered to take the kale off the stalks (I didn’t want to spoil the consistency by putting stalks in. I was going to put kale in at the end rather than boil it with the rest of the veg.)

It made far more than we needed and we will be having it tomorrow too. And Friday. However, it’s good and cheap and you can have sandwiches with it so it helps dodge the salads.

The one on the left has no added colour, the one on the right has the turmeric added. The one in the header picture was taken with flash, which made it look a richer colour and wasn’t a fair comparison to the original beige.

Rhubarb, Ratatouille and a Recipe

The main feature of the day has been the succession of texts and phonecalls.

The first one, from an unknown number, was a bit of a worry as there is always a chance that it is bad news. Once I found out it wasn’t bad news I decided that it’s nice to know there are people out there, despite the isolation. Several of the calls have been people checking to make sure we have everything we need, which is comforting, though it does make me feel old.

I am now watching TV, blogging and breathing in the comforting scent of rhubarb crumble as it cools in the kitchen.

I am mentally preparing myself to cook tea. It’s not that cooking tea is difficult, but as I’m doing a roast it has to be at least as good as the one Julia made a couple of days ago. It’s the same meat, warmed up, but the trimmings all need doing and it won’t do to make a mess of things or she will mention it several times a day for the next week.

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Rede Crested Pochard – Arnot Hill Park

We will be having carrots (because I have bought too many recently), parsnips, sprouts, broccoli and asparagus. We don’t usually have asparagus, but variety is good for us and I threw it in the basket without thinking about what it would go with.

That’s the problem with lockdown, you have to spend so much time planning your food. I was very well organised at one time but after moving to the city and being near a supermarket that was open 24 hours (apart from Sunday) I have let things slip. It has been hard getting them back in line and, with some groceries being short it has been tempting to put a little extra in the basket.

First, there is the menu for 7-10 days, then there is working out the shopping list, ensuring that things won’t go off and actually getting into a shop. At that point you have to hope you can get everything you need, make substitutions, and resist the temptation to add too many snacks. I think I may have covered that before, when talking about the cake and biscuits that found their way into my basket on Wednesday.

Julia is managing to keep her exercise routine up by gardening, working out and running on the spot. My regime of lifting the remote control, walking to the kettle and a little light typing, is not quite so healthy, though it seems to work for me. That’s why I need to cut down on snacks and resist the cake.

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Tufted Duck – Arnot Hill Park

Tomorrow I am going to cook a pan of carrot soup. I really have bought too many carrots.

I’m also going to look at a recipe for Burnt Aubergine Chilli Number One Son sent me. It involves, as you may guess, burning an aubergine. Gas will do nicely, according to the recipe, and a barbecue will give it a nice smokey flavour. The recipe is strangely uninformative about the likely results using a garden flamethrower to do the charring. No doubt it will make for an interesting experiment for the middle of the week.

It’s about time to vary the menu. In fact, if the lockdown is extended for another couple of weeks, it is essential. Much more ratatouille and I’m likely to have a meltdown. We will be having it tomorrow (ratatouille, that is, not a meltdown), and I’m looking on it as a penance rather than a meal. Crumble, on the other hand, is always a pleasure. I will finish now as it’s time to eat.

The photo theme of the day is ducks.

They are interesting, cheerful, and they taste good.

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Mandarin Duck – Arnot Hill Park